As a former Rosewood quarterback and offensive coordinator, first-year Eagles’ head coach Josh Smith has been around long enough to know there’s more to his team’s 5-5 record than meets the eye.
Smith also knows as his team prepares to begin the N.C. High School Athletic Association 1-A state playoffs, dwelling on the past isn’t the best use of time, and if he’s looking for sympathy, there’s none to be found.
Twelfth-seeded Rosewood plays host to twenty-first-seeded Washington County (2-6) tonight at 7. The game can be heard locally on 98.3 FM WGBR and online at Goldsborodailynews.com.
The Eagles are 10-5 in the month of November since 2018.
After starting the season 0-3, the Eagles put together five consecutive wins, four of which came by 17 points or more.
The recipe for success for Rosewood this season has typically consisted of an offensive blend of senior tailback David Lamm with physical runs between the tackles, with junior quarterback Gio Pineda distributing the football to dynamic playmakers Micah Cox and Talan Collins.
The Eagles outscored their opponents 183-62 in their five wins.
“Micah and Talan have both been tremendous for us and even Talan on the defensive side,” Smith said. “Being able to get the playmakers the ball in space, that’s always our goal. Having several guys that can make plays on the offensive side, it kind of keeps the pressure off of certain ones. I think the presence of David (Lamm) over the last couple of years has helped elevate Micah and Talan, to be explosive out on the perimeter or to get behind the secondary. We’ll continue to do our best, especially me as a play-caller, to put the ball in their hands.”
Defensively, Rosewood has been at its best while forcing turnovers, using its speed and athleticism to fly to the football as a unit, and getting opposing offenses in third-and-long situations. That defensive formula led to the Eagles holding five of their opponents to 14 points or less.
Conversely, when Rosewood has ended up on the wrong end of the scoreboard, the margin for error has been razor thin.
Turnovers at critical moments, untimely penalties and the Eagles inability to incorporate Cox and Collins into the offense against quality opponents have all factored into four losses by eight points or less.
Rosewood turned the ball over four times two weeks ago against North Duplin. One of those four Eagles’ turnovers was an interception the Rebels returned for a touchdown.
Lakewood forced a pair of game-changing Eagles’ fumbles in the second half a week ago, while erasing a 14-0 deficit, and ultimately winning 29-28 in double overtime to claim the Carolina 1-A Conference championship.
“I think being in some (tight ballgames) helps create character,” Smith said. “It helps gives the guys an opportunity to face adversity. We could easily be sitting at 8-2, or even 9-1. The only thing we ask of our guys is to give us a chance at the end of games. We have reiterated time and time again, about how we have played, and what we could have done to possibly change some outcomes. In the four games we lost by eight points or less, we had the ball with a chance to either put the game away, or to tie or to win the game. It’s all about putting yourself in a position to win the ballgame.”
Smith anticipates Lamm to be ready to go versus Washington County, after he took a helmet to the thigh against Lakewood, and sustained a deep thigh bruise. The Panthers enter tonight having lost six straight games, with their last win coming on Aug. 25.
Washington County has given up 25 points or more in each of its six losses.